Top 5 from the Fifth Circuit about business litigation, first 1/3 of 2013

The Fifth Circuit wrote in five areas of particular interest for commercial litigation during the first 1/3 of 2013:

Mandatory arbitration.  While an employer’s Dispute Resolution Program encouraged mediation, it still required arbitration if other options did not succeed.  Klein v. Nabors Drilling, 710 F.3d 234 (5th Cir. 2013).

Daubert.  Opinions about railroad safety were “transparently subjective” when the witness relied solely on “education and experience” and could not tie his opinions to specific safety standards.  Brown v. Illinois Central Railroad, 705 F.3d 531 (5th Cir. 2013).

Personal jurisdictionWhen the plaintiff bought a shaved-ice machine in Louisiana and “unilaterally transported” it to Mississippi, Mississippi had no jurisdiction over the Louisiana-based manufacturer.  Irvin v. Southern Snow Manufacturing, No. 11-60767 (5th Cir. March 13, 2013, unpublished).

Injunctive relief and trade secrets.  The Court largely affirmed a preliminary injunction about pharmaceutical development in Daniels Health Sciences v. Vascular Health Sciences, reviewing the standards for proof of a trade secret and irreparable injury.  710 F.3d 579 (5th Cir. 2013).

Mortgage servicing. A series of unpublished opinions rejected claims against mortgage servicers and lenders (usually arising from failed loan modification negotiations) involving the Statute of Frauds, negligent misrepresentation, estoppel, waiver, the validity of a MERS assignment and unreasonable collection efforts 

BONUS: Monks can sell caskets.  A Louisiana law that barred a Benedictine monastery from selling caskets was struck down as unconstitutional under “rational basis” review.  St. Joseph Abbey v. Castille, ___ F.3d ___, No. 11-30757 (5th Cir. March 20, 2013).  “The deference we owe expresses mighty principles of federalism and judicial roles.  The principle we protect from the hand of the State today protects an equally vital core principle – the taking of wealth and handing it to others . . . as ‘economic’ protection of the rulemakers’ pockets.”


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